Tag Archives: Day-in-the-Life

Gary Bembridge

Cruise People – Gary Bembridge

Gary Bembridge Talks About What Makes Cruising So Magical

Having recently picked up yet another award for his blog Tips For Travellers, Gary Bembridge tells us how he became hooked on cruising and gives some vital tips for newcomers.

How long have you been writing Tips for Travellers?

I started Tips For Travellers as a podcast in September 2005 and soon added a YouTube channel when that opened in 2006, followed by the blog around the same time.

What made you start it?

I had a global marketing job for a multi-national (Johnson & Johnson) and was travelling all over the world for around three weeks a month. I would try and stay a day or two either side of my work in every place I went to. As I had so little time there, I would research the destination like crazy before I went so I knew what to see, do and how to get around. I thought since I had all the content overlaid with my experiences that I should share it as it would likely be helpful to others. It took off quickly as there were not a lot of travel podcasts or content on YouTube back then. As of today my YouTube channel has 30.2 million views and the podcast over 1.5 million downloads.

Wow, that’s an incredible achievement. So what is an average day in the life for you?

I retired from corporate life in 2012 when I turned 55 and so I do not have a very typical day nowadays, and I can pretty much do as I please which is fantastic. I travel quite often of course and so that is never typical, but if at home I tend to go to the gym in the morning around 8 / 8.30, head to Starbucks and have a coffee while catching up on emails and then head home and spend a few hours writing, editing videos or doing podcasts and then binge watch TV before getting evening meal ready for my partner and I (as he still works full-time as a corporate lawyer and works long hours).

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise to?

My first cruise was a work one. I was invited to speak at a marketing conference being held on board P&O Cruises Aurora. The ship was chartered every year and hosted marketing directors and marketing services companies. We sailed from Southampton and docked near Guernsey. It was just two nights but as we sailed down the Solent and out to sea I realised what was magical about cruising.

What made you book your first cruise?

I was one of those that thought cruising was not for me. So having been “made” to try it through the conference I was speaking at on board “Aurora” I realised it was fantastic. Since a boy I had ways wanted to travel on iconic transportation and so once I realised I like being at sea I immediately booked a crossing on the QE2.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

The feeling of heading out to sea and the peacefulness of being at sea. That as a revelation to me. Gliding through the ocean with nothing around thrilled me. There were only a couple of things I disliked. One was the  fixed time and seating dining, so I now try and only cruise where there is open seated dining.  The other thing is the constant selling. I soon realised that the model for many lines is to get people on ships at attractive fares and then sell and add on charges and you have to keep getting your cruise card out. I tend to prefer and try to cruise more on all-inclusive lines if I can.

What is the best cruise you have been on and why?

Silversea Silver Explorer to the Arctic. It was incredible. Sailing right into the polar ice cap and exploring places hardly any people go to felt special, unique and we saw amazing wildlife. I am a keen photographer and like photographing wildlife and landscapes and so this was just perfect for that. It was also a luxurious and an attentive way to see the place. There were 120 passengers and basically the same amount of crew, with 15 being the Expedition team.

Image: Gary Bembridge

Sounds absolutely amazing. What is it that appeals to you about cruising in general?

Travelling has become very stressful and time-consuming. Flying especially. I like to see lots of places when on a trip rather than staying in one place as I want to see and do so much, and so cruising makes that easy and much less stressful. The cruises I like most, are the ones that take me to regions and places I have not been to so I can get a flavour of them and decide where to go back to explore much more. I also like that cruises can take me to and let me experience things you cannot really do easily other ways like the Arctic, Alaska, Panama Canal, Antarctica and so on.

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?

Antarctica, Alaska (going there in May 2018) and Polynesian Islands

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

Eat! Usually one boards after my usual lunchtime and so am starving after travelling there. Then I run about the ship taking it all in. I love exploring ships and finding out what they have to offer.

What items do you always take with you on a cruise?

My music and speakers. I love music and have to have it playing all the time and so always take my portable BEATS speakers so I can have good quality music through the cruise. I also always take earplugs and eye shades as I sleep best with them. The other item I always take is a tooth repair kit as while you can get medical help on board, there is no dentist and it can be an ordeal if something goes wrong on sea days or based on the ports and days of week you are calling on. It has helped me big time!

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it?

Windstar Gaelic Explorers from Edinburgh to Dublin. I prefer being on small ships and this is a luxury experience but very informal and friendly. The cabins are huge, food good and really interesting people and crew. Getting into smaller and more unusual places is another plus. Dislike was probably that the fitness centre is a bit dated and has low ceilings so they cannot fit a cross trainer in which is my cardio of choice!

What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?

Heading off shortly on Avalon Waterways Rhine cruise from Cologne to Amsterdam. I have only been on a handful of river cruises and keen to see what they offer and how they are different. River cruise lines do seem to be fairly similar and offer much the same thing and so eager to try different ones and see what they do well. This is something that my followers and audience also like to hear so I know it will be welcome content for them too.

What is your dream cruise?

I did 10 weeks of a world voyage in 2016 and we want to do a whole world cruise in the next few years. It was such a remarkable experience and we met and made some great friends as there were such interesting people and crew. doing the world voyage.

Image Credit: Gary Bembridge

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

You won’t! Everyone thinks that and once they go they all come back saying their biggest frustration was not having time to do everything there was to do. I always say that if you are worried, remember that the longest you will spend on most ships will be from about 6pm to 8am and during that time you will be eating, drinking, watching shows, partying and sleeping. There will be no time to feel trapped.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise

Always use a cruise agent. They will help guide you towards the right cruise line, ship and itinerary based on what you like – and also will know the best and latest deals and offers. They will also often have additional perks or benefits to include. I have been cruising for over a decade and have been developing content for that same time – and I still book through an agent.

Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?

Before you go make sure you know exactly what is (and is not included) in your fare and prepare for everything that is excluded (especially drinks, internet, excursions, transfers, speciality dining and gratuities). Set a target budget for on board and track it. Estimate what you think you will drink, how much you will use the Internet and other items not included and then cost and compare with the packages the line may be offering. Only buy them if they will actually save you, as for example to save with some drinks packages you have to be a VERY heavy drinker! Review your bill regularly to check how you are doing.

Image Credit: Gary Bembridge

For the latest news and information from Tips For Travellers click on the links below.

Tips For Travellers – YouTube

Tips For Travellers – Website

Gary Bembridge – Flickr

Tips For Travellers – Facebook

Recommended Reading Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

Cruise People – Tony Roberts – Princess Cruises

Tony Roberts Reveals He Wanted To Be A Lumberjack

Vice President of Princess Cruises UK and Europe, Tony Roberts, talks about his career, his favourite destinations and Henry & Roxy.

How did you come to work in the Cruise Industry and what was your first job?

I started my working life in Finance, working as a Management Accountant for a Fund Management company, and then a company that made Industrial Filters. I was looking for a new challenge and within a week I was offered finance roles at P&O Cruises, Anderson Consulting, IBM and a company that made storage heaters. I took the job at P&O Cruises as I wanted to work somewhere that I could get excited about the product.

If you could have chosen anything else as a career what would it be?

When I was (really) young, I wanted to be a lumberjack and live in Canada.

What makes Princess Cruises stand out from other cruises?

There are lots of things I could mention about Princess Cruises, such as our fantastic food and drink, amazing entertainment, immersive experiences and our focus on bringing the destination to life. But for me it’s the warmth and hard work of our conscientious crew – they really do a fantastic job and create truly memorable experiences.

As Vice President of Princess Cruises, what is an average day in the life for you?

My job means I’m travelling or away from the office about half of the time, both in the UK and overseas. When I’m in the office, I spend a lot of time with my team and I ask lots of questions.

What was your last holiday?

I went to Corsica and stayed in a villa for a week in August, I can recommend it. All the things I love about Southern France but with a bit of an Italian feel too.

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

I’m heading to Singapore for Christmas to go on a cruise on Sapphire Princess visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. We’re taking the whole family including my Mum so will have three generations of Roberts’ onboard.

Your job role must require organisation, focus and a lot of energy. Do you have any lifestyle/ personal management tips you can give us?

I try to only touch things once, rather than looking at something and then thinking I’ll come back to it. I’m also a ruthless delegator!

What are your hobbies?

I like cycling, and spending time with my family and two Cocker Spaniels.

Tony’s adorable pups, Roxy and Henry

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

I want to go to Alaska – maybe in 2018.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking their first cruise?

I would say that they should go for it as cruising really does offer something for everyone and it’s a great way of seeing lots of places whilst being really well looked after, and only unpacking once.

For the latest deals and special offers with Princess Cruises click here.

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Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

John Honeywell aka Captain Greybeard

A man that really needs no introduction, Captain Greybeard is a household name for fans of cruising, and to us all in the cruise industry. I was absolutely thrilled that. So without further ado here is what I found out.

What does Editor at Large mean?

I was editor of World of Cruising for two years, and then decided to step down to give someone else a chance. Taking the title Editor at Large permits me to retain my association with the magazine, and allows the publication to continue to benefit from its connection with John Honeywell and Captain Greybeard. I like to think I now have twice the fun with half the hassle.

When did you start writing about cruising and why?

As managing editor of a national newspaper group, I was occasionally given opportunities to take part in press trips and fam trips in my own time. After my first cruise (see below) I began to focus on that niche of the travel business and eventually took cruises almost to the exclusion of any other form of holiday. The long-lost days when I would spend two weeks in the same self-catering resort are definitely a thing of the past.

Can you tell us about your very first cruise?

I joined Fred Olsen’s Black Watch in Egypt, expecting to sail for two weeks to reach the UK. The ship had only recently been acquired by Fred Olsen and was on the last leg of a round-Africa voyage. I was immediately impressed by everything about the ship. It was not all plain sailing, however. A mechanical breakdown meant all the passengers had to fly home from Malta where the ship had to stay for repairs. Nevertheless, I was hooked. A year later I was back in the same cabin on the same ship, cruising from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Things are so much easier now with laptops, iPhones, email and internet. What was the method for producing an article when you first started in journalism and do you miss that?

I started my journalistic career on a local weekly newspaper with a staff of three reporters. We knocked out all our copy on ageing upright Remington typewriters that would look like museum pieces today. I progressed via regional daily papers in Sheffield and Birmingham to a job on the Daily Express, moved to London to join Eddy Shah’s Today, returned to the Express, and then had 13 years with the Mirror Group. I can clearly remember the first time I ever heard the word “internet” – at a conference in Berlin on the future of publishing. Since then, EVERYTHING about modern communications has changed.

What is it about cruising that appeals to you?

There’s so much variety. Choose the right ship and the quality of service, accommodation and food is superior to the finest five-star hotel, and the value-for-money is far superior. Choose a different operator and there are opportunities for expeditions and explorations that are impossible to find elsewhere.

As Captain Greybeard, what is an average day life for you?

The best thing about being Captain Greybeard is that there is no such thing as an average day. I could be cruising in the Caribbean, attending a press conference at an Italian shipyard, an industry function in London, or sitting at my desk writing another feature for World of Cruising, the Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, or Cruise Critic.

How did it feel to win the CLIAUK’s Contribution to Cruise Award

One of the proudest moments of my life, after pouring my heart and soul into supporting the cruise industry for almost two decades. To be perfectly honest, there was also an element of “About time, too!” Every previous year the award had gone to a woman writer.

Have you ever met a member of the Royal Family? If so who, why, when and where?

I was a guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party during my time as Managing Editor at the Express. I have attended cruise industry lunches and functions at which The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and the Princess Royal have been guests of honour, but I have never been given the opportunity to speak to any of them. I think I enraged The Queen’s staff when I sneaked a picture of her during Grace on board QM2. Oh, and one year I was a guest at the Cheltenham Festival race meeting when Coral’s bookmakers swapped their box with the Royal Box so that the Queen Mother could get to her seat in the lift.

What was your last holiday?

I don’t have holidays any more, it’s always work. Although work was less important than usual during a cruise to the Seychelles on board Crystal Esprit in March – it was timed to coincide with a significant wedding anniversary.

Have you got your next holiday booked and where is it?

Sadly, I have been ill recently and have had to cancel a planned cruise to the Indian Ocean (back with Fred Olsen) and a Crystal cruise that would have taken me to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. It looks like I will be banned from flying on medical grounds for some time, so I can write off the chance to visit Antarctica next March. If all goes well, I’ll become the ex-UK, no-fly Ninja during 2019, sailing from homeports and getting to the European rivers by Eurostar or coach. Another opportunity to make the most of.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Antarctica, Galapagos and New Zealand

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking their first cruise?

What are you waiting for?

The Captain’s Log

More from Captain Greybeard can be found on the website captain greybeard.com

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